cir·cle /ˈsərk(ə)l/ / by Christine Olejniczak

 #2 in a 4 piece suitcase band

#2 in a 4 piece suitcase band

To draw a line around. “circle the correct answers”

I’ve been thinking about circles. I think about circles a lot. How long has this spinning thing been in my life. There was a time when I would draw circles as a meditative act. I did sound pieces titled “Thinking of You for 5 Minutes”. I would concentrate on one person while I drew a circle over and over again with a timer running.

I’m told by my father that when I was a child – pre-school age – that my version of dancing would be to spin in circles until I would fall down. Immediately after falling I would get up and spin again. These days I hoop dance. For some reason when I have a plastic ring in my hands I feel inspired to make what I’ve come to think of as my signature move. I’m learning to do tricks with names like vortex, tornado, swirl, sparkle and helix.

In the first studio I ever had in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago I was compelled to bend over and scribe a circle on the floor with my pencil. A circle that was drawn with me extending my left arm, pencil in hand. I spun around and drew a circle. I must have traced it thirty times before I was satisfied. I stepped out of the circle and took a look. I loved that spot. I loved that drawing. It seemed to be a record of so many things.

Recently I have had the opportunity to observe the change of seasons in ecologies very different from the desert plateau where I live. Pickens, South Carolina in fall of 2014 – Salina, Kansas in spring of 2015. I’ve begun studying the cycle of the seasons in diverse parts of the country. It was a gift to observe the forest change in South Carolina, sometimes over the course of an hour. I watched so many leaves fall that the path back to my cabin would be erased.

In Salina I arrived at the end of February during a snowstorm. The snow was drifting across the highway between Wichita and Salina with winds over 20mph. I had to pull over to scrape ice from the wheel wells. When I stopped at the wayside there was only about ¼ inch clearance between the rubber of the tire and the slush that had caked up inside the well. Weeks later I watched wheat poke up through the ground like sticks. By the time I left at the end of April the dogwood trees had already bloomed. One afternoon staring out the window of Ad Astra Coffee Shop I thought the weather had taken a sudden turn for the worse – I was wrong. I thought it was snowing but it was thousands of white petals blowing by.

From Wikipedia: Ensō (円相) is a Japanese word meaning “circle” and a concept strongly associated with Zen. Ensō is one of the most common subjects of Japanese calligraphy even though it is a symbol and not a character. It symbolizes the Absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the Universe, and the void; it can also symbolize the Japanese aesthetic itself. As an “expression of the moment” it is often considered a form of minimalist expressionist art.

So much more for me to consider when it comes to thinking about the circle. My art process always starts with drawing and often ends with performance. In between are many small steps. I am picking up in places where I left off. Now feels like the right time for me to be drawing circles everyday, to be expanding the ways I make circles with my body and in my life. The way I make connections to close circuits and strengthen bonds.